Des Hasler has insisted he did not cross a line in criticism of NRL officials, claiming he does not even remember the post-match comments that could land him and Manly in hot water.
The fallout from the Sea Eagles’ loss to Parramatta continued on Wednesday, with Hasler conceding there was now no hope of superstar fullback Tom Trbojevic returning this season from shoulder surgery.
The Manly mentor was adamant that did not spell the end of the Sea Eagles’ season, pointing to Reuben Garrick’s experience at fullback as proof they could still succeed.
But Hasler was less willing to enter into the debate around referee performance on the eve of Thursday night’s clash with Melbourne.
Hasler’s comments after the loss to the Eels remain under NRL review, after the coach criticized several crucial calls in the final 10 minutes of the match.
He also questioned a 9-2 penalty count against his team, stating the Eels had been “legged back into the game”.
Hasler then doubled down on Saturday, questioning why his team continued to be among the most penalized teams in the NRL.
Sea Eagles prop Josh Aloiai was also critical this week, claiming referee Ben Cummins had done Manly “no favors” and done “a bad job” late in the game.
But when asked whether he believed he personally had crossed a line given NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo’s investigation into the comments, Hasler was adamant he had done nothing wrong.
“I do not even remember what I said, I would not have said anything controversial that’s for sure,” Hasler said on Wednesday.
“The only thing that we asked to be reviewed was the ruling and the inconsistencies around the 10 meters and we both agreed on that.”
Hasler said he had spoken to the league over the matter, and walked away happy with the talks.
“The NRL were very good, we went through the usual steps and the usual processes,” Hasler said.
“We had conversations around that and we were able to clarify everything we needed to clarify.”
Manly have been hardest hit by referees this season, conceding 45 set restarts across the opening 11 rounds.
They have also not been awarded one restart in attack in the past two rounds, earning just 23 across the year.
But players are also aware it is on them to fix some of their discipline issues.
“The style of footy we play this year compared to last year, I would not say it is overly different,” captain Daly Cherry-Evans said.
“You do wonder why it has turned around so much, but we can not control what the referees have going into a game or if they have pre-conceived ideas. You would think they do not.
“We’m just making sure we can control the things we can control.
“There are going to be days when we get the rub of the green and when we do, we have to make sure we can capitalize.”